Fresh Hope – 29th April 2017

How many of you today are waiting for an answer to prayer, a breakthrough, or a miracle?

There is a key word here…it’s called WAITING.

Sometimes God seems to ‘go quiet’ on His answers.
It’s at those times we have to REMAIN.

When you wait at the traffic lights, sometimes it’s a red and sometimes it’s an amber.
Often, when there are temporary road works in the street, especially during a quiet period and your lane is on red, you can look for the oncoming traffic and there is none and you wonder what is the point in waiting.
Sometimes early on a quiet Sunday morning, I’ve been tempted to ‘jump’ those lights, thinking it wouldn’t matter, because no one will even know. But, then the sensible in me kicks in, and I realise there is a reason I have to wait, even if I’ll never know the reason.

Sometimes, God ‘goes quiet’. It doesn’t mean He has left you or that He’s forgotten you, but it does mean you have to be patient.

DO NOT stop praying during those times, that’s exactly what the enemy would want, for you to give up on your dream and request, after a short period of time.

Anything that’s special, anything that’s important, is worth fighting for. Who knows, your breakthrough is probably just around the corner.

So today , don’t equate those quiet times as NO, just trust in the timing of God. It’s always perfect.
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2017

Your thoughts can be previews of ‘coming attractions’, unless you do something about them.

When the enemy sets out to destroy you, he always starts with a thought.

Evil thoughts are not yours until you allow them to move in and rearrange the furniture. Left to ramble through your mind, a thought will attach itself to an incident in your past and feed on it, until it becomes like a tumour inside you.

Paul says “…Take captive every thought… To make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10v5).

Solomon said…”above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” (Proverbs 4 v 23).

Don’t give evil thoughts any ground in your head. Evict them before they weaken your commitment, and leave you in the Valley of despair.

When we clean the house, we tend to focus only on what others can see or inspect. Just imagine how much ‘mental’ junk we collect, because we think nobody sits in our heads examining our thoughts…but somebody does – God does! He knows your every thought.

Identify your wrong thoughts.

Address them as unwelcome guests.

Fill your mind with good thoughts.

Read the Bible daily, and let it wash your mind clean again.

Psalm 139:1-4 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2017

That chip on your shoulder could be heavier than you think.

The evidence that anger kills is growing every day. Dr Redford Williams says that the stress hormone cortisol, which fuels anger, literally tears blood vessels, causing damage to your arteries.

Continuous anger prevents the healing process from taking place, so once the damage is done, a single bout of rage can trigger a fatal heart attack.

Jesus said, “Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move, make things right. Do it now, otherwise an inevitable process starts working and continues until you have paid the last penny in pain and distress.” (Matthew 5 v 25-26)

Deal with the issue now before it costs you the race. Forgive! Even if the person who wronged you never admits it, or does not seem to suffer for what they’ve done, forgiving will set you free and enable you to move forward, and that’s what’s important.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. It’s the one power you always have over the person who hurt you. Abraham Lincoln said, “the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” Forgiveness will put a spring in your spiritual step, and give you a second wind for the race of life.

Go ahead…forgive, and watch what happens.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th April 2017

In 1 Kings 18 is the familiar story of Elijah going up against the prophets of Baal. Here in verse 21, we read how before the action begins, Elijah addresses the people.

‘Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.’

This is a great question we should ask and answer ourselves every day.

The problem is, we can easily give the correct answer verbally ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ but then give the incorrect answer behaviourally by how we live and answer ‘my circumstances are Lord!’

For example, we can say ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ but then continually worry about finances, family or health issues. Then dwelling on our issues we look to tell anyone who will listen and we end up confessing that circumstances are Lord.

It’s perfectly natural to be affected by circumstances, but Baal is Lord of the perfectly natural and to worship Baal is to make your perfectly natural situation the most important thing in your life.

To have Jesus as Lord though is perfectly ‘supernatural’ and means despite circumstances, we’re confident and feel assured that the Creator of the universe is for us.

As I said though, this isn’t natural – it’s not our default or everyone would by nature follow God’s plan, but if by faith we seek Him in our lives every day and make intentional efforts to keep our hearts and minds on HI’m, we start to not only overcome our emotions following our circumstances but we start to enjoy the battle because we know we’ve already won.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”But the people said nothing.

Don’t just say nothing today, but make a decision to declare, “the Lord is God and even if my circumstances don’t look great, they are just a temporary facade over the glorious reality of what God has for me!”

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2017

Success is usually given only at the end of great struggle!

If it came easily, everybody would have it. Lots of people procrastinate, hoping to find an easier way. But it doesn’t work. What ever it costs, it costs – there is no swapping of price tags.

The value of anything is determined by the price you pay for it. Furthermore, you won’t easily jeopardise something when you remember what it cost you.

What are you afraid of anyway? Failing? Your greatest concern should be the opposite – regretting that you didn’t even try.

Are you afraid of criticism? Face it, as you move upwards certain people will find your success offensive. If they do, that’s their problem – unless you make it yours by getting insecure or defensive.

We all want to be liked, but at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, “how much am I willing to lose in order to be accepted?”

Nehemiah cried out to his opposers…”I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Any time you defer to the opinions of people instead of the will of God, you’re stepping down.

Advancement often brings isolation and criticism. God may be grooming you right now for a new level of blessing by exposing you to both. Can you handle it? Not everybody can!

If you are determined not to be the kind of person that can sit on the sidelines while others play the game, then go for it. God will reward every step of faith and every sacrifice you make.

Luke 12:48…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2017

‘Ride or Die’ is a term that is used in today’s society and it refers to a person who is with you no matter what, through both the good and the bad.

Maybe you can think of someone in your world who you would consider to be a Ride or Die kind of person, someone you know you can rely on, someone who’s going to stick by your side at all times.

Though we would think of this as a modern term, I want to suggest to you that we find the original Ride or Die all the way back in the Bible.

As we have just come out of Easter, maybe the story of God has been on your mind. The thought of Jesus hanging on a cross to bear the weight of the sins of humanity.
What’s amazing to me about this is that the Bible says if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus still would have done what He did just for you. Talk about a Ride or Die.

Before you even knew Him, before you even considered riding with Him, He died for you.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This is the sacrifice that was made and this was the price that was paid for you and for me.

I wonder whether today you would consider the reality of God’s love towards you and accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life that comes by believing in Him.

Jesus is the original and only true Ride or Die.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2017

Recently, I was requested to go for some routine blood tests. They apparently are looking for eight different things. It’s all part of a well-woman health check. Things like cholesterol and diabetes are on the list to check for. They do that to help make my LIFE BETTER. Is there anything that needs correcting?

You may give blood each year to help someone in need or in a crisis. I remember my Dad several years ago, as he lay in hospital dying, receiving someone’s else’s blood, that helped save his life. Our daughter, after giving birth to our second grandson had to have a blood transfusion – again,  using someone’s blood that had been freely given to help a LIFE IN CRISIS.

Blood tests, may help better your life, or blood may help when in a crisis, but there’s only one person’s blood that can actually CHANGE YOUR LIFE and make it BRAND NEW.

We have just celebrated Easter. Jesus Christ died and gave His blood freely, so that you and I can know forgiveness of sins and have a totally brand new life.

Blood tests may hurt for five seconds, giving blood may be uncomfortable for a time, but the blood that He shed, didn’t only hurt, but it killed Him. And He did that freely for me and for you.

Think about the sacrifice and be thankful. Think about the sacrifice and make sure you make it personal to yourself, by accepting His forgiveness and the new life that He offers you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2017

The first black American to play major league baseball was Jackie Robinson. He faced insults and abuse in every stadium while trying to break through baseball’s colour barrier.

One day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed a foul and the fans turned on him. While they jeered, he just stood there at second base, humiliated. Suddenly, one of his teammates ran over, stood next to him, put his arm around him, and together they faced the crowd. Within seconds the fans grew quiet. Years later, when Robinson was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame he said, “it was the arm around my shoulder that day that saved my career and brought me to this moment.”

If God has truly lifted you, you will always reach back for others, it will be as natural to you as breathing.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”

In prosperity, our friends know us, but in adversity we know our friends. They are the ones who come to us when we are in a fix.

Are you a friend like that?

If you think you’ll ever need one – be one.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2017

Joe had worked for the same building contractor for over 20 years. One day he called Joe into the office and said, “I’m putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the job from the ground up. I’ll be out of the country for three months.”

As Joe studied the blueprints and checked the specifications, he thought,”why not cut a few corners, use less expensive materials and put the extra money in my pocket?” So he ordered second rate timber, inexpensive concrete, and cheap wiring.

When the house was finished, the contractor came to see it. After inspecting it, he turned to Joe, handed him the key and said, “I didn’t tell you this before, but this house is a gift from me to you in appreciation for all the years you have worked for me.” You can imagine Joe’s surprise, along with his concern that he had now built his own house with inferior materials.

Build well. The character you build today is the one you will live with tomorrow.

Today is another chance to build – make sure you do it right.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th April 2017

If you are serious about growth, here are four things you must do:

1. Make a commitment to change. Most of us want things to get better without having to change anything. To grow, you must commit yourself to not only accepting change but to seeking it.

2. Focus on your strengths. Peter Drucker said, “the great mystery is not that people do things badly, but that they occasionally do things well.” One thing that requires no effort is incompetence, strength is always specific. Nobody ever commented that the great violinist, Jascha Heifetz couldn’t play the trumpet very well. If you try to be good at everything you will be good at nothing. God gave you specific gifts – find them and use them.

3. Put yourself in a growth environment. Certain fish grow to the size of their environment…so do people. Put them in a small aquarium and they remain small. Release them into the ocean and they grow to their intended size. If you spend time in the wrong place with the wrong crowd doing the wrong things you will never experience growth.

4. Learn to enjoy the journey. Most grand Masters of chess learn and relearn their moves over a period of 15 years before winning their first title. That’s almost a fifth of their lives. If you’re going to spend that much time doing something, you had better like it. If the destination appeals to you but you are not enjoying the journey, you would be wise to seek God’s guidance and make sure that you are heading in the right direction.

Proverbs 9:9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2017

When God calls you to do something, His call is confirmed in several ways:

1. You feel ‘moved’. There’s a moment of certainty when God puts His hand on you and nudges you towards a particular need, usually an unmet one.

2. It’s confirmed by others. People around you will discern that God is at work in your life; people that know you well will watch you and see when you’re at your best. They’ll say things like…’you shine when you do that.’

3. You’ll be gifted to do it. God’s call to your life will always come with His giftedness. You may not realise it at first, but you will start to feel His hand holding yours when you do what you were created to do. When you’re in your ‘calling’ you soar despite the obstacles.

4. You’ll see results. You’ll change things and touch lives. St.Patrick once had a dream of the people of Ireland calling him to walk among them. He responded and an entire nation began its journey towards Christianity.

You can’t live in someone’s else dream, you are called to have a dream for your own life. Sometimes your dream starts by helping others to fulfil theirs.

Remember: you are not so much asked to DECIDE what to do with your life, but to DISCERN what you are to do with your life.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2017

People will often treat you according to how you treat yourself; pelope will eventually speak about you according to how you speak about yourself too.

When God made man and woman, as recorded in the book of Genesis, He gave a huge thumbs up and stated that they were ‘very good’. He gave them His royal seal of approval.

Having a healthy self esteem is not pride, but it’s having a correct opinion of yourself as revealed in God’s word.

Your opinion of YOU will affect everything you do in life, not to mention its effect on how far you will go in life.

Stop and ask yourself today, ‘how do I really feel about myself?’

Before you answer, read these 10 principles to help correctly govern your life.

1. Never think or speak negatively about yourself – that puts you in disagreement with God

2. Work on your God-given strengths and learn to encourage yourself – for most of the time, nobody else will.

3. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. You’re unique, one of a kind, an original. So don’t settle for being a copy.

4. Focus on your potential, not your limitations.

5. Find what you like to do, do well, and strive to do it with excellence.

6. Have the courage to be different. Be a God pleaser and not a man pleaser.

7. Learn to handle criticism. Let it develop you instead of discourage you.

8. Determine your own worth instead of letting others do it for you. They’ll short change you.

9. Keep your shortcomings in perspective – you’re still a work in progress.

10. Focus daily on your greatest source of confidence – the God who lives in you.

Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2017


Here are a few verses from James 5… “if anyone is in trouble, he should pray…if you’re happy, be thankful to God…if you’re sick, get the elders to pray for you.”

We should adopt a LIFESTYLE of prayer. In verse 17, it tells us how Elijah needed a couple of miracles, so he prayed, and God answered.

So these verses just about cover everything.

In trouble? Pray.
Happy? Pray.
Need healing? Pray.
Need a miracle? Pray.

I love how it says that we should give thanks when we are happy. Too many of us are pray-ers when we need something.
What about living a lifestyle of thankfulness when you dont need something?

When you wake, instead of thinking, “Lord I’m not looking forward to today, start with “thank you Lord that I’m alive.”That’s a prayer, but it’s a thankful one.

I like to be thankful as often as I can. I talk to the Lord often and say “Thank you.” For my food, for my coffee, for my family, for our church. You will often hear me saying “thank you Lord.” For all the good things that He is doing. For all the plans He has for me. For all the times He helps me. I could go on and on.

As a parent, we probably would like our children to talk to us more, how much does God love it, when you speak with Him?

I love this verse. I have quoted it many times “and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (vs 16)
No matter how short or long your prayer maybe, even if it’s a “thank you”, your prayer is powerful and it’s effective enough to produce a harvest in your life.

Remember today whatever your situation, be a pray-er.
Because God answers prayer.
The strength of prayer is not in the one who prayed it, but the One to whom you pray.

THANK YOU JESUS.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2017

There are few things in life that come under the category of ‘top priority’; however, when they do, they tend to get our immediate attention.

A few years ago, I wrote an email to someone and got no response. A further two emails were sent and I received the same silent treatment. It was only after I headed the very same email up in huge capital letters that shouted out ‘read me and respond’ that eventually I received the answer I was looking for.

The Bible confuses many people, in that they don’t know where to start to look for the answers that they desperately want; there are so many things contained in the 66 books that it’s hardly surprising.

I went to catering college when I was 17. I’d done a little cooking at home and was fascinated by learning how to become a professional chef. In those first few classes, I was mesmerised as some of the greatest chefs taught us the most simple, basic and yet mind-blowing ways of creating classic dishes. I remember going home every night and telling my parents that I now knew how to make all those wonderful creations that everyone enjoyed.

As I tried out what I’d been taught, the end result was mouth-watering, yet the method was so simple when you knew how.

Finding out how to make sense of life is much the same. You need someone to help you.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are one of those people searching for the answers to your life, and that you want to look into the Bible to see what it has to say. Let’s imagine that you have no clue where to begin and would like some help.

Allow me then to take you to what is the most important information that you need to know and is classified as ‘TOP PRIORITY’.

Here it is…

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 …’For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have died’.

The most important information in the whole of the Bible is written here by a one time Christ hater and Christian persecutor and now says I’m passing this onto you as of ‘FIRST IMPORTANCE.’

As we enter this day known as Good Friday, I pray that your eyes will be opened to understand the greatest life-changing news of all time. News that will once and for all settle the issue of life and death and cure the basic scramble going on inside of you regarding the meaning of life.

His name is Jesus.

He died for your sins.

He was buried.

He rose from the dead, so that you could find life in His name.

Why not come and find out more this EASTER SUNDAY?

I will be bringing a special Easter message called ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ at both our services – 9am and 11.30am.

You owe it to yourself to at least give yourself the opportunity to believe.

For more info check out or website – championschurch.org.uk

Happy Easter.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2017

As we draw closer to the day known historically as ‘Good Friday’, let’s take a few moments to think about the magnitude of what happened on the day that Jesus was crucified.

Throughout the whole Bible, no blood except the blood of Jesus was ever called ‘precious’. Millions of animals were slain for sacrifices used in the Old Testament, yet for all of that blood that was offered it was powerless to take away a person’s sin once and for all.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Imagine for a moment that you had a dining room table with a large stain in the middle of it. When visitors came round for a meal, you would more than likely cover the table with neatly ironed table cloth and cover the stain. The cloth would successfully cover, but could never take away the stain. Once the visitors were gone, the cloth would be washed and put away and the stain would be still there.

Just like that table, we all have stains in our lives that seemingly cannot be removed. We all tend to cover them in order to appear pretty perfect in front of others. It’s only when we are on our own that we allow our stains to be revealed.

In the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices made for sin had only the power to temporarily ‘cover’ people’s sins, but when Jesus was seen for the first time in public as a man, His relation John said…’Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1 v 29)

Jesus’ blood works not just to cover our sin, but is the only blood that can TAKE AWAY our sins once and for all. He gets right to the root of your problem and when you invite Him into your life and ask for His forgiveness, HE has the power to cleanse you from all sin and make you right with God. No wonder John was excited when he saw Jesus.

Why settle today for a life that keeps covering up your faults and past mistakes when you can come to Jesus and confess your sins, knowing that He will completely wash your sins away and give you a brand new life?

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th April 2017

One of the greatest questions of all time, would have to be along the lines of this one…’what do I have to do to do the work that God requires?’

The answer to that comes in many different forms, dependent on your belief system. Here are a few common responses…

Do more religious things

Help more people

Give more money

Serve in a community project

Pray more

The list really has no end to it.

All of these are usually very commendable things and would certainly never be frowned upon , yet we have a problem, in that Jesus never said that any of those things qualify for a correct response to such a huge question.

For centuries, people have felt that good works are the answer to this, yet that answer doesn’t even come close.

Here is what Jesus said in response to being asked this exact question by a group of individuals…

John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

That’s it?! YES, the work that God requires is to BELIEVE.

Praying, serving, giving, loving and all other things come as a result of just one thing, and that is, BELIEVING.

Believing on and in the name of Jesus, is to do the very work that God requires and must come before all other things.

God made it so simple that everyone can do it.

At this very special time of Easter, I pray that you would come to a realisation that no amount of good works can earn you God’s love, in fact it’s impossible to receive this free gift by trying to ‘pay’ for it.

As we contemplate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ this coming weekend, ask yourself one simple question: do I believe?

That initial step of faith and trust in all that Jesus HAS done is what God is looking for, and is the very work that He requires.

All others things find their true meaning after this, but never before it.

Believe today and receive today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2017

Recently whilst helping to clear out a loft, I came across a china bowl.

It turned out to be what’s called ‘Nanking cargo’ china recovered from the wreckage of a Dutch cargo ship that had sank in the South China Sea in 1752 and was famously salvaged in 1984.

For 232 years it lay perfectly preserved under the sea before being recovered and sold at auction at Christie’s where the current owner had purchased it, it still showed the Christie’s badge and lot number.

This must be priceless you would think? Unfortunately no, for the simple reason that around 50,000 identical bowls had also survived from that wreckage.

You can get other china that’s chipped, tainted, not as old and doesn’t have the same amazing back story, but is worth immeasurably more for one simple reason. They’re a one off from a famous maker.

Guess where this is going?

You are, as you read this today, a ‘one off’ from a famous world renowned maker. You are priceless. You may be imperfect, chipped, not the most elegant to look at, you may not have the greatest back story etc… but you are a one off and so valuable that God gave His only Son to buy you at auction.

I hope your self esteem is rising as you read this, your self-worth should be going through the roof.

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

What can we say other than ‘thank you Jesus!’ He’s done it, it’s over, the auction hammer has gone down and he’s paid up in full. There’s nothing we can add other than to believe and work out what it means in the day to day of life to have been truly saved from the depths. Let’s work that out together.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2017

In the Bible we find a story about a woman who’s been faced with the same illness for 12 long years. During this time, she had seen many doctors and spent lots of money, but instead of getting better, she grew worse.

One day, she hears that Jesus has come to town and thinks to herself, ‘If I can just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Sure enough, she works her way through the crowd, manages to touch the edge of His garment and is instantly made whole.

It’s important to note that during her sickness, this woman had acted in an attempt to get better. She hadn’t just sat around, but she had explored many different options, hoping that as a result, her condition would change. However, there was just one problem…her aim was off.

Up until this point, she had aimed her action in the direction of her own resources, and at the abilities of the people around her, hoping they could make things better, but it didn’t work.

On the day we see this story recorded, yet again we see this woman step out and act. However this time, she had perfected her aim. She aimed her action not towards herself or the people around her, but towards Jesus. And it was in that moment, she found everything she had been searching for and more.

What are you putting your trust in today? Who are you relying on to turn your life around? Let me encourage you to aim your action in the direction of Jesus – the only One who is able to do for you what you cannot do for yourself… The only One who is able to bring true transformation to your life.

He’s everything you’ve been looking for and more.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2017

In John 20, Jesus appears to His disciples having just risen from the dead. They were obviously overwhelmed by this visitation.
Thomas however, wasn’t there at that time, so when he was told later that day, he said “unless I see it for myself, I won’t believe.”

We can be like that. We can say we won’t believe until we see, yet we believe in gravity that we can’t see, yet we know it’s real. We believe in the wind, even though we can’t physically see it, but we can see its effects.
Many of us believe in Australia even though we’ve never been, because we know someone that has been there and so we believe them.

Later on in that chapter, Jesus says “blessed is the man who believes, even though he has not seen.” The correct translation of ‘blessed’ here is ‘makarios’ – which means ridiculously happy.

When you are praying for something that you have yet to see, keep believing that you will see it, because you will be blessed.
Your marriage may not be good right now, but you have to believe it will be, before you see it.
Your health may not be good right now, but believe for your healing before you actually see it.
Your situation may need a miracle…believe it can be different and you will see.

“Blessed is the man or woman who believes , but has not yet seen.”

God wants you to apply faith to your situation, to your prayer request.
Don’t ask God for one thing and start to believe another.

Don’t be like Thomas, be a BELIEVER…then you WILL see.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2017

There are three kinds of peace found in the Bible.

Each one relates to a different part of your life, yet Jesus willingly gives you all three, all at once, and without measure. In fact, as we saw yesterday, Jesus was crucified, and was raised back to life, in order to bring you the very best and most lasting peace that’s ever been on offer.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

The first kind of peace is the peace He LEAVES with you.

In other words, it stays. It doesn’t leave. It’s always there, even beneath the surface on your worst day.

We could call this peace..PEACE WITH GOD.

By asking Jesus for His forgiveness, He, in return gives you instant peace WITH God. That peace remains with you for the rest of your life as you follow Jesus.

Make your peace WITH God today.

The second kind of peace, is the peace He GIVES to you.

We could call this peace…the PEACE OF GOD.

This peace is the peace He sends to your life when you are on the right track. When you obey Him, you will sense this peace. When you do the right thing, you will sense this peace. If you’re going in the right direction for your life, you will sense this kind of peace. It’s the peace OF God.

You’ll soon know when it’s taken from you also. If you wander from the right path, disobey Him or do the wrong thing for your life, you will notice that this peace leaves you. It’s a kind of gauge to help you know when you are in God’s will. This peace will return as soon as you say sorry and get back on track.

Do you have the peace OF God today? If not, ask yourself why.

The third kind of peace, is PEACE WITH YOURSELF.

The Bible passage above says that Jesus gives peace…’not as the world gives.’

The world gives people temporary emotional lifts that make us feel great for a night, so long as we’ve had quite a bit to drink and that people all want to be your friend. The problem is that that kind of peace in yourself is short lived and always has to rely on outside circumstances to prop you up.

Knowing peace WITH YOURSELF means that no matter what day it is, and no matter what you have to face, Jesus gives you an overwhelming sense of well being from WITHIN.

His death on the cross was the payment that he had to make on your behalf, in order to smash the effects of sin and to make a way for all those that believe on His name to be set free.

Have you found peace with yourself? There’s only one way…be at peace with Him.

NO GOD – NO PEACE

KNOW GOD – KNOW PEACE.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2017

If you are the parent of a young child or children, you will especially know the desire to find peace at the end of every day.

From the moment they’re awake, it’s a full on war against your peace. That’s not to say that your children are difficult or naughty, but, to have your whole day totally taken up with their needs, is enough to make you crave the moment they are lovingly tucked back up in bed, marking your survival of yet another day as a parent.

As you clear away the toys and the clutter before collapsing on the sofa, you let out that deep sigh that we all recognise as…’now let me have some peace.’

As we approach this Easter season, let me jump ahead and take you to the first hours after the resurrection.

It’s the Sunday night of the resurrection day, and the disciples have barricaded themselves in a small room for fear of their lives. They had been following Jesus for three years, and now that He’s been crucified, they were afraid that they too may be next in line.

Huddled together and remaining deathly quser, Jesus walks straight through the locked door and simply says…’peace be with you.’ (John 20 v 19 -29)

During this conversation, He repeats the very same phrase three times, giving you no doubt as to what the first result of His resurrection may mean to you – Peace.

Peace is only fully appreciated when you’ve had none for a few hours or in some cases, a lifetime.
The very same sigh that you feel at the end of your day as a parent, the very same sigh that you give off when getting home from a busy day at work, is the very same sigh that the disciples gave off when Jesus visited them that day and brought with Him the gift of peace.

He was saying, ‘calm down guys, everything going to be alright…I’m back!’

That night, the disciples’ fear turned to incredible joy as they saw the Lord.

If you’ve been wondering of late, ‘why it is that you can everything in life and yet still have no lasting peace?’; then look no further…the resurrected Jesus brings peace.

Is that what you would like for yourself this Easter time?

Then you are included by Jesus, no matter who you are.

The Easter message has never lost its power, even though 2000 years old. People by their millions are still finding peace, when they let Jesus walk in on their lives.

No matter how closed up your life may have been up until now, He will immediately walk right in and fill you with peace.

Simply believe on His name and invite in Him.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 5th April 2017

Ever felt that the life you are trying to build is being taken apart by God?

Ever felt in this current season of your life that you seem to be being stripped of everything you have lived for?

Ever been scared to open the Bible, or pray, for fear that God would once again ask for yet again another part of your life to be surrendered to Him, knowing that there’s hardly anything left as it is?

There have been seasons in my own life when the only way I could describe them was to say that it felt like as if I was walking naked through a crowd, with no ability to cover myself up – nightmare! Embarrassed, confused and stripped of everything that I’d built in and around my life.

A couple of days ago, I visited a friend. He was excited to show me this garden that he’d been working on. As we walked from the front to the back of his house, he began to describe the massive plums that his trees would be bearing this year. You can imagine how surprised I was when we arrived in the back garden to find just four very small trees with just a few short branches on. In my mind, if you were going to produce massive plums, you would need a massive tree – but not so to him. He showed me the shoots that had been growing during the winter and that he had just that day cut right off.

It was the very action of pruning the tree that guaranteed the future success of the fruit. “The more I prune, the greater the size of the fruit later on”, he said.

I’d known this all along, but that day was a very clear reminder as to why God ‘prunes’ our lives.

Pruning is seasonal and is for greater growth.

Pruning seems painful at the time, but is necessary for a future harvest.

Pruning seems wrong when things can give an appearance of getting bigger. Yet, we must not be confused that the size of the fruit equates to the size of the tree. In fact, the opposite is true. Seemingly insignificant ‘small’ humble people can far outweigh those that are mighty in their own eyes.

Feeling cut back today?

Feeling stripped of everything right now?

Don’t dismay…God always prunes those He loves so that you will have a far more effective life.

Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2017

Dropping off my mother-in-law’s shopping a few days ago, she announced to me that she thought she’d blown up the microwave.

“There were flames coming out of it”, she said, and upon further investigation she told me what she had done.

It turned out that she had taken two uncooked frozen Yorkshire puddings from the freezer and placed them in the microwave as per instructions. I asked if she had tried to cook them in the foil, but she knew not to do that.

Knowing that it would be unlikely that you could cook such a thing in the microwave, I asked to see the instructions that she had used. I was taken to the freezer and shown a loose bag of Yorkshire puddings with no original container in sight. Instead, there was a small piece of card containing instructions that she had cut out from the discarded box. She was right…the instructions clearly stated that you could cook them exactly as she had done so, however, on reading further I discovered the problem; the cut out instructions were from a box of frozen pizzas!!

It’s one thing to follow instructions, but it’s another to follow the right instructions.

You may well ask why things are always going up in smoke when you are seemingly doing everything that someone told you to do; my question to you is this: whose instructions are you following and what are they telling you to do?

Following instructions for anything in life is pretty simple, but in reality we all want a short cut that takes us from the first page to the last one without having to read the whole thing. If only my mother-in-law would have read the word ‘Pizza’ she would have saved herself a whole lot of trouble.

Following Jesus ultimately means that we agree to follow His instructions for our lives, yet we all tend to go through seasons of our lives where we stubbornly live as ‘know-it-alls’, believing that our way is the best and only way. In reality, we are walking into disaster – a disaster that we will probably end up blaming God for.

God’s word, the Bible, has the answer to everything you may be facing right now, however it can only be applied if you read it. The Holy Spirit doesn’t read the Bible for you, He can only remind you of what you’ve already read.

Wisdom for what to do at any given time is the result of storing God’s word up in your heart.

Start today afresh with these words to one of God’s chosen leaders…

Joshua 1:7-8 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2017

A lobster can only grow by shedding its protective shell and growing a larger one to expand into.

This is a great picture for us that often in order to grow, we have to go through a season of shedding our security blanket.

Lobsters only shed their shell because of discomfort. They grow too big for their shells, become uncomfortable and so make the change. If a lobster had access to the NHS, it would never grow. As soon as it had any discomfort  it would visit the doctor, get some pain relief and counselling to help it live with the discomfort and would never have the courage or inclination to take the risk and shed that shell.

The lobster becomes vulnerable once its shell has been shed. That is often the reason we don’t grow – we don’t feel it’s sensible to expose ourselves to a weakened position. If the lobster doesn’t take the risk though , its shell eventually kills it.

If you’re reading this today and feeling frustrated and uncomfortable at the confines of your life, I encourage you to take a risk. Often, the thing in our life (the shell) that protects us most, brings provision and shelter, can be the thing stopping us from growing and achieving greater things.

What can also be confusing is that the current restrictive shell was a previously God-given miraculous provision from a previous season. This can make us feel it’s where we should live forever, but the life of faith is one of advancement and growth and what was previously correct for us may now be restricting us, and also God always has new miraculous provision for us.

In Luke 17:33 Jesus said, ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.’

The life of faith is an upside down existence and so I encourage you today to step out, take risks.  Be prepared to lay down your life in order to come into real life. You won’t be disappointed.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2017

A favourite movie of ours is ‘The Fighting Temptations’ – you should see it, if you haven’t.

The title makes me think about how most days we are tempted – maybe it’s just to eat the whole box of cream cakes, but surely as the sun comes up each morning, we will get tempted.

Here’s some common misconceptions about temptation

1. “Temptation is sin.”

No it isn’t. Jesus Himself was tempted, yet without sin.

2. “I’m the only one struggling with this temptation.”

No you’re not. You’re not that special.

3. “There’s no way I can overcome this temptation.”

Yes there is, it’s called self control, discipline – know your Bible and remember the verse ‘He that is in me, is greater than he that is in the world.’

4. “I’m a very strong person, I’ll never get tempted or pulled down.”

Be careful; Jesus was tempted but not pulled down. The Bible teaches us “be careful so that you do not fall.”
How can I get stronger and withstand temptation?

Have a great relationship with God. (Jesus did)
Know your Bible. (Jesus did)
Be aware of the enemies schemes. Be wise. (Jesus was).

Take your lead from Him today and know that He is always with you and that whatever the temptation, you can withstand.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.